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Choosing Your Hammock

Here’s a list of considerations regarding where and how your new Hammock will be used, and which types we would recommend:

I want a super-comfortable Hammock to nap in.

Comfort can mean different things to different people. The Deluxe Quilted Hammock, with its soft poly fiber fill and built-in pillow, is certainly the softest of the “Spreader Bar” Hammocks (those are the ones with the wooden bars at the ends). But if you prefer to be wrapped up in a more cocoon-like environment, we would recommend either the Nicaraguan or the Brazilian Hammocks.

Any of those are great for keeping you a little warmer, if you plan on using it at night, in a cooler climate, or earlier or later in the year.  The Classic and Deluxe Rope Hammocks, on the other hand, are suited to keeping you cool on a hot day, as is the loose-knit Mayan Hammock.

Classic Rope Hammock

Classic Rope Hammock

I want to use my Hammock indoors, or on my porch.

Indoor Hammocks are a great way to stretch out in you living room or on your deck, and make a great every-night alternative to a bed. One problem is that they actually take up a lot of space, especially length-wise. A 13 to 15 foot distance from end to end is recommended for some.

Brazilian, Nicaraguan and Mayan Hammocks need the least space in terms of length and width, and unlike others, can fit into an even smaller space when combined with a  Stand.  The Latin Hammock Stand, by pulling the ends of the Hammock down and in, needs only 9 feet in total length, and has a footprint about 5 feet by 4 feet.

I want a Hammock to sunbathe on, and that will dry quickly.

Any of the Spreader Bar Hammocks are good for getting into and out with ease, and tend to dry more quickly. Whether its from rain, or wet swimmers laying on it, the Poolside Hammock is, not surprisingly, the best designed for dampness. It can be wiped dry, or will dry in the sun in no time. The Deluxe Quilted Hammock is also waterproof, though, and would generally be considered more comfortable for a longer stay.

Given that you’re looking for lots of direct sunlight, you may want a free-standing Hammock with a Stand. Consider the Wicker Hammock Stand for a more permanent setting, or the Tri-Beam Stand if you want something more portable.

Poolside Hammock

Poolside Hammock with Tri-Beam Hammock Stand

I want to hang my Hammock between two trees.

Definitely opt for our Eco-Friendly Tree Straps for this purpose, especially if it’s not a permanent installation. They work just as well, and don’t damage the trees in any way.

Any of our Hammocks work equally well with the Tree Straps, and you can find the range of hanging distances each Hammock requires in its description.

I want to share my Hammock with another person — and maybe several people.

You may want to consider that sharing a Non-Spreader-Bar Hammock is a much cosier experience than with the Poolside or Quilted Hammocks — whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The cosiness of a Rope Hammock would be somewhere in between.

All our Hammocks are considered large enough for at least two people, and for at least 441 pounds. There’s little difference between them — except that the Extra-Large Mayan Hammock is safe for as much as 869 pounds. Check the weight limitations of your hanging equipment, though, too. The Latin and Wicker Hammock Stands can support the most, while the Chain Kit is considered to be as secure as the bolts are secure in their posts or trees.

Extra Large Mayan Hammock

Extra Large Mayan Hammock

I want a Hammock I can leave out in the wind and rain, and not worry about.

It’s recommended that the Non-Spreader-Bar Hammocks — Brazilian, Nicaraguan and Mayan –be brought inside when not in use, or that you use the our handy Hammock Sock to keep them secure and dry. The cotton Classic Rope Hammock should also be kept out of the worst rain and humidity, due to the potential for mold and miildew. All of the others are reasonably weather-resistant, with the Poolside Hammock being the nearest thing to indestructible.

I want a Hammock that’s safe for small children, and that they won’t destroy.

The Classic Rope Hammock comes with a warning — that small children could be injured by getting tangled in it. The same is true, but less so, of the Deluxe Polyester Rope Hammock. This really means that, like a pool, very small children shouldn’t be left alone with it.

The most durable Hammocks, in terms of both potential tearing and staining, are the Poolside and Quilted Hammocks. All Spreader Bar Hammocks have the potential to flip, however, if some serious rough-housing is going on. The Brazilian Style and Nicaraguan Hammocks are very kid-safe, and also quite durable.

Brazilian Style Hammock

Brazilian Style Hammock

Shaker Style Furniture

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing formed in 18th. Century England when a small group broke away from the Society of Friends. The Society were commonly known as Quakers, and the  new sect were derisively called “Shaking Quakers” or “Shakers” in reference to the enthusiastic dancing that was part of their worship. (The term “Shakers” was so commonly applied that, in time, it came to be accepted by followers themselves.)

8 Shakers emigrated to America in about 1774, and established a community in upstate New York. They practiced celibacy, abstinence, pacifism, and aspired to both self-sufficiency and an austere, simple life. Through conversion and the adoption of unwanted children, the sect grew to encompass some 19 communities from Indiana to Maine by the mid-1800’s.

Country Side Table with Drawer

Country Side Table with Drawer

They took pride in their education and their industry, and produced tools and furniture that were both cleverly designed and highly functional. Sparingly decorated, but never lacking in their own distinctive beauty, Shaker tables, chairs and cabinets were made primarily from light, versatile pine and used innovative methods of joining.

The Shaker aesthetic was perhaps best symbolized by their distincitve pegboard system, which often ran the entire cicumference of a room and was used to hang not only coats, but anything that would hang, including their lightweight chairs and other furniture.

Slate Creek Peg Shelf

Slate Creek Peg Shelf

Able to produce their unique furnishings in large quantities, the Shakers were happy to sell them to the general population, who admired them for their sturdy quality and clever design features. Thus, Shaker furniture found its way into many homes in the Northeast and beyond, where it greatly influenced furniture-makers of all stripes.

Although genuine Shaker furniture is now entirely in the realm of antiques — today, there are approximately 3 practicing Shakers left — its classic designs are still emulated by modern artisans. Relaxed Cottage Living features a broad (and growing) Shaker Style Furniture Collection, made from American pine and in the traditional style, right down to the classic handmade drawer-runner systems.

Milk Paint

Milk paint is made from three ingredients: milk, lime powder and earth-based pigments taken from clay or minerals. As a result, it is purely natural and completely non-toxic. It’s even biodegradable, and could be poured out into a flower bed without doing any harm.

Applied to almost any wooden surface, milk paint is also exceedingly durable. In fact, it’s infamously difficult for anyone who tries to remove it — even after many decades or centuries of wear, a trained professional is ofen required to completely strip an item of its milk paint.

The use of milk paint dates to prehistoric times, but its use increased greatly in both Europe and America during the 19th. century, as improved farming techniques made milk abundant and inexpensive. The reason a great many barns were traditionally painted red was that a large quantity of paint could easilly be made using surplus milk and red clay.

During the Industrial Revolution, there were an array of developments in other, chemical-based paints which provided many more options. The ultimate undoing of milk paint, however, was the rapid distribution of other paints which were mass-produced and shipped around the continent to turn up conveniently on store shelves. Milk paint, naturally, will spoil in a short period of time, and so cannot be transported in that way. (It was, and is today, shipped as a powder just like powdered milk, but that’s relatively inconvenient to the average barn-painter.)

Country Bedroom Collection

Part of the Country Bedroom Collection

More and more, however, milk paint is being rediscovered by furniture makers and crafters. A newfound appreciation for these timeless paints stems not only from their eco-friendly credentials, but their usefulness in creating “antiqued” and distressed looks as well. If you’re thinking about trying your hand at your own project, you can learn about making your own milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.

A wide range of our Cottage Furniture products are available with a variety of milk paint finishes, which are glazed for protection as well as an added sheen. They can be found throughout our Furniture categories, as well as our Country and Farmhouse Collections such as:


Jute is a fiber obtained from a tall slender family of reeds known by the unlikely name Sparrmanniaceae, which are indigenous to India and Bangladesh. Up to 13 feet in length when harvested and incredibly strong, the fiber is spun into thread and then woven into a variety of fabrics with a variety of purposes.

Even if you don’t have a jute rug or a ball of jute twine laying around, you may be more familiar with jute than you think — among other things, it’s what the fabric known in North America as burlap is made from. In fact, it’s cited as one of the most versatile natural materials in the world. Its broad, coarse base is used to make rough, inexpensive fabrics used in erosion control, while its tip is so fine that it’s often used in making artificial silk.

It’s sometimes called the “golden fiber”, and that is for two distinct reasons: firstly, its rich off-white to bronze coloring with a natural sheen, and secondly, its high rate of profitability for the farmer. Many would argue that it could be called “golden” for more reasons than that, as well as that “golden” could easilly be replaced by “green”.

What’s so eco-friendly about jute? Like cotton, it’s a natural material, completely biodegradable and recyclable. Unlike cotton, however, it can be grown in vast amounts without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Its cultivation in the river delta environment doesn’t involve the destruction of forest or wetlands that other materials do. The process of extracting the fiber from the plant — called “retting” — can be done chemical-free, and typically requires only naturally running water and human effort.

Harvest Table Set

Harvest Table Set

At Relaxed Cottage Living, we offer a variety of quality jute products, all manufactured in the U.S.A. and including the Harvest Collection seen above (not seen is the Harvest Rug). Find them in our new Eco-friendly Theme Category, as well as:

3 More Holiday Gift Ideas

Oleshia Clock

Oleshia Clock

1. Oleshia Clock. Part Old World and part modern, this eye-catching, artfully-distressed timepiece is a must-have for the Beach House or Boat House.

Of course, it’s just one of our many Cottage Style Clocks, which span not just the Coastal, but Country Cottage styles. All of our clocks are ready-to-ship, and usually arrives in less than 8 days, so there’s still lots of time to order one in time for Christmas.

Everlasting Pillow

Everlasting Pillow

2. Handcrafted Primitive Pillow. Made by hand in the U.S.A. using traditional hooking and applique techniques, our collection of Primitive Pillows — such as the Everlasting Pillow at left — are must-have accents for the Country-style home- or cottage-owner.

More throw pillows are arriving to our site all the time. Be sure to check out the complete Collections of which some pillows are just a part, such as the Kaleidoscope Collection of matching hooked Pillow, Rug and Table Runner.

Fly-through Bird Feeder

Fly-through Bird Feeder

3. Fly-through Bird Feeder. This distinctively-designed feeder is now available in three equally beautiful finishes — Polished Copper, Venetian Bronze and the new Ruby Finish pictured at right.

Relaxed Cottage Living has a generous selection of both Bird Feeders and Birdhouses for the cottage porch or veranda tucked away among our Outdoor Accessories. You can also browse the Veranda in our Shop By Room categories, where you’ll find just a sampling of our quality outdoor products.

More Holiday Gift Ideas

Barn Stars


Copper Barn Star

Copper Barn Star

A useful explanation of what a barn star is, and what it means, is necessarily more about what it’s not.

More popular than ever, this simple metal or wooden wall adornment — often in the form of a five-pointed star — is the subject of much confused speculation.

What is true is that they first appeared (although they may have previously existed in Europe) on barns in the regions of Pennsylvania which were in large part populated by German and Dutch immigrants and their descendents. From this fact comes the often repeated notion that they were associated with the Old Order Amish (many, including other retailers, even call them “Amish Barn Stars”). This is not only inaccurate, but fairly ridiculous — it takes only the slightest knowledge of Amish traditions to realize that a large, colorful object with no purpose other than adornment would be the last thing you’d see on an Old Order farm.

In fact, the barn star originates with their non-Amish neighbors, known to some as the “Fancy Dutch” in order to distinguish them from “Plain Dutch” communities like the Amish.  They may have been the trademarks of professional barn-builders, and they may have been thought of as lucky symbols. Ultimately, as their numbers increased following the Civil War, there’s little doubt that the barn star was just what it appeared to be — a bold and distinctive decoration for a large wall space calling out for one.

With the advent of the automobile early in the 20th. century, barn stars began to attract the attention of more and more passing tourists. Some took home replicas and hung them both inside and out, spreading this folk art tradition to all corners of the continent.

Our own Barn Stars at Relaxed Cottage Living are handmade in the U.S.A. from 100% copper, to last in continuing beauty on either an interior or exterior wall. In fact, they’re designed to develop an attractive patina over time, especially in the elements. If you’re thinking of adding one of these American classics to your wall, make a point of checking them out.


Antique Heart Pine

Heart Pine, put simply, is wood from the center or “heart” of the tree. Although it may be the heartwood of any of a number of species of pine, it’s most often from the Longleaf Pine, which covered much of the coastal plain of the South from Virginia to Texas when Europeans first arrived on the continent.

A boon to those pioneers, the golden-red heartwood of the Longleaf Pine was stronger — and also more attractive — than most pine, and was used extensively in the construction of homes, ships and more. In fact, it came to be known as the “King’s Wood”, as it was reknowned for its beauty and durability. By the late 19th. century, the Longleaf was being felled in vast numbers, tranported to mills from further and further inland by river and manmade canal.

By the early 20th. century, the huge Longleaf forests had almost disappeared, with perhaps only 2 or 3 per cent of the original forests intact. With extinction a genuine threat, those forests became protected preserves. Not surprisingly, the growth and expansion of the Longleaf are now encouraged, but it takes hundreds of years for its dense heartwood to form.

Legare Table

Legare Table

As a result, Heart Pine from newly felled trees (known as “New Heart Pine”) is an extremely rare commodity today, and people go to great lengths to acquire “Antique Heart Pine” by reclaiming it from old buildings. In this way, the beauty of the wood can be enjoyed by many more generations, without further depopulation of the forests. So prized is Heart Pine that it’s also salvaged from river-bottoms, where the occasional Longleaf log came to rest many decades before, after being lost in transport.  At Relaxed Cottage Living, we’re pleased to offer this exquisite reclaimed wood as an option on many of our Dining Table tops, Desk tops and more. Appropriately, it’s a feature of many items found in our Coastal Cottage collections (along with Cherry and Walnut).

Penny Rugs

Coin Rug

The Penny Rug emerged as a folk art tradition in the mid-19th. century, one of the many products of resourceful American homemakers.

At a time when little went to waste, every left-over scrap of fabric — from other crafts, as well as worn-out clothing — was kept, and put to use. Tiny, oddly-shaped tidbits of cloth could often only be formed into circles, with the aid of a handy penny or other coin as a guide.

More and more concentric circles of wool or felted wool would be embroidered in repeating patterns onto a piece of burlap-backed wool to compose the classic Penny Rug design. Of course, other shapes such as diamonds and stars made their way into the mix.

So admired was the Penny Rug that, in some cases, they were used as table runners or wall hangings, though the term “rug” was still applied. Now, as in the past, the same Penny Rug piece could be laid on the floor or hung on the wall without being out of place. At Relaxed Cottage Living, our assortment of Penny Rugs — all handmade in the authentic style — are appropriately dispersed throughout multiple categories. That’s why we’ve assembled them all in the Penny Rug Collection as well.

Or, if you’re the handy type, you can read a how-to on crafting your own folk art classic at Penny Rugs and More.

3 Holiday Gift Ideas


Hammered Torch

1. Oil-Burning Torch. Every man enjoys playing with fire, and an oil lamp is still the best way to light up a back yard party — especially if you can get a deal on a few of them (you can).

Made from hand-hammered iron, it burns for as long as 48 hours and sits snugly in a special 5-foot stake that keeps it out of the reach of young children.

Cottage Round Frame

Cottage Round Frame


2. Handcrafted Picture Frame. We can’t help but think what a perfect gift one of these vintage-style distressed frames could make for a hard-to-shop-for loved one, with an equally timeless photo from the near or distant past…

Keep in mind that these frames are made to order with your choice of finish, and that shipping times may be a little longer as the holidays approach.

Color Frenzy Big Blue Basket

Color Frenzy Big Blue Basket


3. Braided Storage Basket. It’s a toy box, it’s a beach bag, it’s a laundry hamper. It’s uses are endless, and in one of the many color-ways available, are also a welcome additon to any room’s decor.

Hand-braided from one of a number of available materials — some are stain-resistant and even suitable for being left outside — these baskets are sure to be a functional and decorative delight for someone on your list.

More Holiday Gift Ideas

Pie Safes


Classic Country Pie Safe

Classic Country Pie Safe

For those of you who don’t know (and if you were born in the 20th. century or later, that’s understandable), the pie safe was a staple of the American kitchen until it was made obsolete by the icebox and, later, the refrigerator. Also called a garde-manger in Louisiana and a pie chest elsewhere, it was the place to store not just pies – although pies were, and are, important – but any and all perishable foodstuffs.

With the threat of pie-hungry rodents and insects being a leading concern, the pie safe was made of sturdy wood construction, with long, tapered legs to discourage climbers. Alternatively, some homes actually suspended the pie safe from the ceiling. Ventilation was necessary, and so the door panels of the finest safes were comprised of wire mesh or artfully punched tin – known by some as tôles de panneaux.

Nearly ubiquitous until the mid-19th. century, the pie safe was displaced by the icebox (when ice harvesting and delivery became widespread), and vitually disappeared. Presumably, only the largest and most pie-savvy kitchens retained room enough for the old pie safe, where, over a century and a half, it matured into a unique and distinguishing conversation piece.

Portia Pie Safe

Portia Pie Safe

From there, it evolved, inspiring diverse takes on the classic design. Relaxed Cottage Living has not one, not two, but three pies safes on offer in our burgeoning Buffets & Cabinets section. Two of those are more modern takes inspired by the pie safe concept. The third (pictured above)  is the genuine article — a meticulously detailed recreation of the classic, right down to the punched tin panels.

One might make an excellent additon to your cottage-style kitchen, and any would be an excellent place to keep your fresh-baked pies.